Why HTML5 business apps?

Why HTML5 business apps?

While the consumer landscape has evolved very rapidly in the last few years, the enterprise landscape has taken a bit longer when it comes to adopting to the modern app concepts. This disparity in technology adoption is expected. I guess like most businesses, your business also runs some obscure systems that are there forever and they just work (at least most of the time).

Nowadays HTML5 apps take advantage of the power house that modern browsers have to offer allowing developers to create network connected apps rather than traditional web applications.

html5 web application

2016 the year modern browser adoption finally took off

Corporations are usually very slow when it comes to adopting to modern browsers. IE (Internet Explorer), more notably IE8 (yuk) is still a dominant enterprise browser.

According to Gartner this year for the first-time Google Chrome will be the most used browser in the enterprises followed by IE. While certain government related bodies have to stick to IE8 (double yuk), many are rapidly (as quickly as enterprises can go) adopting modern browsers as their browser of choice.

Why old style web apps don’t work?

Browser adoption and sometimes legacy applications cause a great difficulty when it comes to actually embrace new technological trends like SPA (Single Page Application) that relies heavily on client side technologies like JavaScript, CSS3 and HTML5. Instead what corporations usually tend to implement are the older technologies that could end up being server side technologies like JSP, ASP.NET, PHP or other like-minded technologies.

This does not mean these technologies have no merits or have no place in modern apps. They do and can play a very important role. They should still be used as the underlying technology. The use of these technologies usually comes with the normal pitfalls associated with the page life-cycle such as page state.

traditional web apps
traditional request / response web app

The request / response model most of the time works perfect except when you have low bandwidth or even high frequency requirements.

The rise of the business HTML5 apps

In a networked HTML5 app usually back-end systems such as SharePoint, SAP, Dynamics CRM and others can take a function of a “platform” that gets leveraged by the app. This can have great benefits for organisations since customisation don’t have to live any longer within a specific back-end system, usually freeing the organisation for being able to upgrade to the next back-end system release without affecting their specific logic.

On the other hand, the use of client side technologies may come with its own challenges (even taking aside the browser adoption issue) such as; security. A careful planning is essential, otherwise you might end up in a “security gate” situation.

HTML5 modern business app concept case study


One of our latest enterprise business app projects, users using SharePoint for issue tracking and SAP for typical business process executions like product management and customer service, faced an almost constant slow execution performance with either back-end systems (I am not simply referring to speed here, also issues such as having to go through confusing screens and multiple post backs).

One of the most important issues this app had to resolve was the ability of searching very quickly from a product catalog of more than 100 thousand products and in real time correlate this product data to SharePoint data held across multiple lists and libraries.

A combination of the following technologies enabled us to meet this requirement efficiently:

  • IndexedDB – Web browser NoSQL database system
  • EmberJS and bootstrap – Help to simplify a lot the complexity of working with client side technologies
  • JS – IndexedDB wrapper to facilitate working with the client site NoSQL technology
  • Web Sockets – ideal for communication based systems, perfect for high frequency applications that require data to be available fast
  • Web API back-end – Server side back-end, using remote event receivers for SharePoint and SAP connectors

The end result is a lighting fast app that is built mobile first and highly intuitive. Allows users perform instant product catalog and SharePoint searches.

Now everyone has a bit more time to spare 🙂

Osvaldo Sousa
23 Dec 2016